Persons With Disabilities

Resilience and Persons with DisabilitiesGeneral Public Image - Persons with Disabilities

Many persons with disabilities have already confronted and overcome challenges, and have already had to make accommodations in maintaining their identity, relationships, and roles.  They are survivors.

These survival qualities, known as resilience, refer to the ability to “bounce back” from life problems in a way that makes people stronger.  Resilience in persons with disabilities seems to involve some similar influences as it does to others, and to also have some important differences. 

Resiliency conditions take place along three dimensions of our experience: I AM, I CAN, and I HAVE. This fact sheet will discuss each of these as it relates to disaster recovery for persons with disabilities.

I AM refers to personal characteristics such as self-esteem, confidence, and recognition of personal strengths and assets.  Many persons with disabilities have already had to reorganize and refine their experience of self-esteem as it relates to their disability, and in their response to disaster they can draw on this history of survival and character-building. 

I CAN as an element of resiliency refers to recognition of not just self-esteem but self efficacy, which means the ability to DO and PERFORM survival, and recovery-related tasks.  Although some disabilities may reduce physical strength or stamina or present perceptual challenges, persons with disability have important talents of wisdom and perseverance and perspective that they can bring to the disaster experience.

I HAVE refers to the supports around each of us that promote resilience.  These supports are like the airbags in our cars that even when we crash can keep us from being wounded too seriously.  For persons with disabilities these support systems might include access to service agencies, relationships with others, and participation in community resources.

In summary, persons with disabilities may be well suited, through their experience of confronting and accommodating their disability struggles, to endure and recover from disasters.  Some additional information on resilience is found elsewhere on this website.


Additional Resources

The Department of Labor provides advice and information to persons with disabilites to prepare for and during disasters.

Americans with Disabilities Act homepage has numerous important resources for people with disabilities.  Concerns regarding legal rights, enforcement, accessibility and more can be answered here.

The Parent Center Hub has helpful resources for parents of children with disabilities.